|My neighbor and me sharing some quality time.|
Three years ago, I moved into an apartment by myself. It was a huge step for me because I had never lived alone, and although I had never experienced living alone, I knew it was exactly the right decision for me. Because 1) walking around the apartment in your underwear, as I like to do, is awesome and 2) 99.9% of roommates you find on Craigslist are CRAZY. And I couldn't take it anymore. I realized that it's worth the extra money to live by yourself in a smaller space when you aren't afraid of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your roommate playing the trumpet or using your vacuum cleaner attachments to tidy her pubic hair.
"Ah," I thought when I moved in. "Finally! My own space where I can make a giant mess, and no one can stop me or complain about my dishes or my cat being an asshole or anything else."
The best part was that I got a reduced rent for "as long as I wanted to live in the building" because of some issues with the boiler. And since mine was the only finished apartment at the time, I would have the building to myself for two months. It was amazing. So quiet and so dark at night, it was like sleeping in a giant Isatoner slipper. (Or at least what I imagine that would be like.)
And then Bull Moose Ejaculator moved in downstairs.
I call him Bull Moose Ejaculator because I'm positive that the sex noises that came from his apartment sound exactly like the Alaskan wilderness during mating season, minus the pleasant chirping of birds. Plus, he snored loud enough I could hear it through the floorboards.
So, this was the exchange, I realized. No more crazy roommates, but now I had to deal with loud neighbors and thin walls. But I tried to remain positive. At least I could lock the door between myself and those vexing me.
Eventually, I got used to Bull Moose Ejaculator. When I heard the bed downstairs start creaking, I would just put on some David Attenborough and fall asleep on my couch to the sounds of nature. And I had grown up around my dad falling asleep in the middle of movies and snoring over all of the dialogue, so BME's (as I lovingly nicknamed him) snoring became kind of a comfort to me.
When he moved out at the end of the first year, I must admit I was a little sad to see him go.
And then a new neighbor moved in to take his place. We will call him Asshole Shitbagginson. And that is where the story really begins.
On the night Asshole Shitbagginson moved in, I woke up at 2 AM to what I can only describe as Johnny Cash shouting into my ear while banging on a trash can with a stick made of angry cats. And while I love Johnny Cash, it seemed excessive. The next morning I called my landlord to ask him to politely request that the neighbor to keep his music down. "Sure, sure. I'll talk to him," my landlord said. A few days went by and the music persisted.
I finally went down to the neighbor's apartment and knocked. It seemed rude for me to not just go down there, introduce myself, and explain my situation. Maybe he wasn't aware of the thin walls. He seemed normal. And nice. And shocked that he had offended my tender eardrums. "It won't happen again," he said. The next morning at 6:30 AM, I woke to, "DO YOU BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE? AFTER LOVE? AFTER LOVE?" And I was like, "Seriously, Cher?"
It seemed odd that Asshole Shitbagginson was not only listening to his music loud again after agreeing not to, but also doing it clearly out of spite. When I knocked on his door again, he didn't answer. I called the landlord. "Sure, sure. I'll talk to him," he replied and then left for an unannounced month-long vacation, where he would not have access to a cell phone.
After a month of unreturned phone calls, I just gave up and accepted that my downstairs neighbor was a shithead. He listened to his music at top volume all day and into the night. He shouted into his cell phone. He stumbled around his apartment like a cart horse with a broken leg, slamming cabinets, moving furniture, possibly jackhammering. "You get reduced rent," I reminded myself and put in my earplugs.
But then, one night when I was using my Wii Fit, during one of those brief periods when I decided to take up working out, I realized that the weird banging noise I was hearing over the TV was the sound of my downstairs neighbor pounding on the heating vent that connected our apartments, clearly trying to get my attention. Unbeknownst to me, I was being the loud shithead on this occasion. Embarrassed, I got off the Wii Fit and tiptoed around the rest of the night in what I hoped was an apologetic way. But I couldn't help but feel that, considering the noise he made on a regular basis, couldn't he give me a free pass to be slightly loud once in a while? Apparently not.
It was a few months after that incident that I was getting ready for work one morning when I noticed that Asshole Shitbagginson had not listened to anything but Adele's "Someone Like You" for several days. "That poor, loud, rude bastard," I thought. "Even he is not a stranger to heartache." I almost felt sorry for him. This went on for a month.
On the day it finally stopped, I was somewhat startled when I was awakened at 7 AM to Johnny Cash. His Adele period seemed to be over. Could it be that Asshole Shitbagginson had found love at last? The next day I heard a woman's voice coming from downstairs and realized I must be right.
A week later, I was sitting on my couch editing a manuscript about eating disorders (as I often do) when I began to hear shrieking. Had someone run over a howler monkey in the street outside? It didn't take long to realize that the shieking was Asshole Shitbagginson's new girlfriend. "OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!" she screamed for hours and hours and hours. "Sweet Jesus Christ on a Cracker," I said aloud to no one but my cat. "If you're going to fake an orgasm for longer than ten minutes, have the courtesy to put a pillow over your face." My cat flopped over on the floor and tried to lick her butt in response. The next day, through the vent in my bathroom, I heard the unmistakable sound of balls slapping against wet ass as Asshole Shitbagginson treated his new lady friend to some romantic shower time. "OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD." Would it ever end?
I put down the riveting manuscript and called my landlord again.
"Sure, sure. I'll talk to him," said the landlord.
As their relationship grew and they spent more time together, I began hearing conversations like this:
Girlfriend: HEY, PUT ON THAT SONG AGAIN.
Asshole Shitbagginson: WHAT?
Girlfriend: I SAID PUT THAT SONG ON AGAIN.
Asshole Shitbagginson: WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?
Asshole Shitbagginson: I SAID WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?
Girlfriend: I'M PEEING.
Asshole Shitbagginson: WHAT?
Girlfriend: I SAID I'M PEEING.
It seemed fitting that somehow the loudest man on Earth had found what appeared to be the loudest woman on Earth. I would have been happy for both of them if they had managed to not be the biggest assholes alive. If this were a fairy tale, it would end, "And the loudest man on Earth and the loudest woman on Earth moved to Siberia and no one ever heard from them again." But it's not.
At some point during all of this, I lost my assertive nature. I don't even knock on the door anymore when the music gets loud. I just pound on the floor with the hammer I keep under my coffee table. And Asshole Shitbagginson, true to form, shouts up, "WHAT?" And turns the music louder.
There will be no conclusion to this story until one of us moves. And I'm not going. So for now I will conclude with, "Sure, sure. I'll talk to him." And then just not do anything.